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OEC Enhances State’s STEM Education, Energy Awareness

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By Ruth Ann Ruiz

The Post Newspaper Features Editor

Joy Sloan recalls the times as a little girl when she and her siblings would be loaded into the family car for a weekend day trip to places such as Humble and Alvin. Her father worked upstream in the oil industry providing pressure gauges for oil drilling rigs.

“It was always kind of fun, we would get Dairy Queen for a treat after Dad had finished taking care of the emergency situation at the rig,” said Sloan. 

Her adult life took her through a couple careers, one of which was 20 years as a classroom teacher. Her retirement job took her back to her childhood. She currently works in the Oilfield Energy Center’s education department and has spent 14 years developing curriculum for children and teachers. 

“Teachers need different ways to present ideas to students, and I love being able to help create material for teachers to use,” said Sloan. 

OEC sponsors Galveston’s pride and joy, the Ocean Star, the only oil rig museum in the world. They are eager to get their preschool through middle school educational materials back into the classrooms of schools in Southeast Texas.

“The OEC is pleased to be resuming STEM education and Energy Awareness outreach programs. The OEC, with greater than 39 different private energy companies and organizations, is highly recognized in this endeavor and proud to be highlighting the efforts of Doris Tomas and Joy Sloan, highly dedicated educators,” said Lori Fremin, OEC Board Chair and Shell General Manager.

“All of our student material is aligned with TEKS and has been sitting in storage since the pandemic started,” explained Doris Thomas, Director of Education for OEC. 

Pre-Covid, the center conducted teacher workshops with hands-on activities which enhanced teacher’s knowledge with some creative ways to teach earth sciences. The workshops provided Texas teachers with six hours of continuing education credit. 

Without in-person teacher workshop options, Tomas and Sloan quickly scrambled to put the entire teacher workshop into a virtual format. “Teachers can use our online program and learn everything we taught in our workshops,” said Tomas.

The good news for teachers is that the online workshop can be completed at a time and day that meets the teacher’s schedules. If all steps are completed, they can still earn continued education hours.

Tomas, a former teacher and principal, has spent over a decade coordinating the teacher workshops at OEC with loads of immersive education ideas for teachers to use in their classrooms. 

The trunks are composed of teaching materials about topics such as recycling, ocean life, the life cycle of a butterfly and, of course, oil production, are shipped to all qualifying teachers for 30 days use. If a teacher takes the online workshop, they will have access to checking out a learning trunk for the rest of their teaching career. 

More good news: the trunks, brimming with learning supplies, will be shipped to the school where the teacher is teaching at no cost. There is a small fee of $15 for the teacher to access the online workshop. 

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